He Said/She Said: 10 questions about theatermakin’ OkCupid chaos

HE IS

Photo 2013 - JC - BLS Headshot 18

Performer Benjamin Stuber

Co-creator of Love in a Heat Death Universe, performing at Dixon Place on May 28th

SHE IS

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Playwright Angela Santillo

Writer of above mentioned play performing at the above mentioned location/time

 

She Asked:  Why make this a solo show?

He Said:  The New York dating scene is an epically lonely, fraught, and chaotic shitstorm. Online dating sites purportedly provide a refuge from these problems by allowing people to present themselves any way they choose and screen others without wasting valuable time or emotional energy. But in many ways online dating only exacerbates these conditions, spawning abstracted eidolons who interact through disconnected and confusing virtual encounters. For many, this only increases isolation and self-referential eccentricities. The solo form can aptly capture the paradoxical humor and sadness of virtual dating: the audience knows that by definition the single performer will never find anyone but himself no matter how hard he tries. And yet his painful striving can be fascinating to watch and in some ways enlightening. I think we learn a great deal about ourselves through weathering the storms of romance and love, whether in person or online.

 

She asked:  This devising process has been like…

He Said: Butter! Well, it’s definitely come easy. Many of these characters suggested themselves from a very early stage of the process, and once we found the organizing principles and plot their interactions snapped together with similar ease. Angela and I communicate very well and although we have different opinions about dating and the subject matter in general, our ideas and crazy suggestions have played very well together. It’s been a very fruitful and fast process.

 

She asked:  What has been the most surprising part of this process, thus far?

He Said: I’ve helped create a lot of devised work over the years so perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked, but I’m struck by the rich, deep, compelling and original characters that have emerged from our random and patchwork sources. Tiny bits of text, impressions from profiles of people we’ve never met, and heady literary and scientific theory has – through Angela’s hard work and talent – coalesced into a fascinating and believable cast of characters.

 

She asked:  In one sentence, define what OkCupid is.

He Said: The desperate, curious, and perverse meet in a whirlwind of self-absorption, plummeting standards, and artless sexual innuendo. But it sort of works.

 

She asked: Which character in the play would you go on a date with?

He Said: … none of them? Okay, fine. Bang has self-awareness, but I don’t want to date a version of myself. Hank has a soul but no self-love. Ozy’s probably terrible in bed, Peg would be prohibitively expensive to feed, and I probably wouldn’t meet Butter’s dating standards. So I suppose I would date Jefferson, because he’s well-dressed and -informed and I’ll always know what’s coming on the horizon when I’m around him.

 

He asked: OkCupid seems such a bizarre, artificially way to find love. What do you think makes it so popular?

She Said:  It is convenient.  You can be as busy as you want and all you have to do is pick up a device and see who is out there.  An instant way of feeling connected to something more than your daily grind.


He asked: 
How has drawing from personal emails, physically-based improvisation, and other sources affected the language of the play?

She Said:  Huge.  I wanted this piece to personify the words found on OkCupid.  People have very different writing styles, from romantic verbosity to never-ending disconnected thoughts.  Once I was recognized the different patterns, the characters were created around those benchmarks.


He asked: How would you describe your own OkCupid persona? Would you like to meet her if she wasn’t you?

She Said:  I think my profile makes me look like an average girl with a smart ass after taste.  I would meet me.  Who doesn’t want to meet me?

 

He asked: What’s the strangest OkCupid interaction you’ve ever had – online or in real life?

She Said:   This guy, we had a good first date but it came out that I was a writer from the West.  He asked me if I was tired.  I told him I am perpetually tired.  He then went on to tell me that ten years ago a psychic told him one day in New York City he would meet a tired writer from the West and that ever since then, he was waiting to meet “her.”

Needless to say I didn’t go on that second date.   He didn’t take the rejection well.  Later on, I randomly came across his website (he was a painter) and discovered he painted me, in retaliation I suppose.  The woman in the portrait had my face, my body, an looked evil and a robotic arm.

 

He asked: How do you think entropy and chaos affect dating in the City for better and worse?

She Said:  I think this city is exhausting and insane and that either pushes you to want to meet someone ASAP or makes you feel totally burned out and hopeless.  I think if anything, the chaos of our day-to-day lives reminds us that it is important to find connection, that there has to be more than your to-do list or that list is going to take over your life.  And suck your soul out and deprive your family of grandchildren.  Spoken like a true Italian right there.

 

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